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Daily Newscasts

Today Marks 46 Years of Wilderness Protection in CO

September 3, 2010

DENVER - Today marks the 46th anniversary of the signing of the federal Wilderness Act, which is legislation that can be used to protect wild areas on public lands. Suzanne Jones, regional director of the Colorado regional office of The Wilderness Society, says Coloradans have a long bipartisan history of preserving public lands.

"We have protected them for backcountry recreation, for wildlife habitat, as a source of clean drinking water, and to protect the scenic vistas that make Colorado such a great place to live and visit."

Last year, wilderness protection was extended to two regions in the state: the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness near Grand Junction and the vast majority of the backcountry in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Since the Wilderness Act was signed, Congress has passed 15 bills designating wilderness in Colorado. Jones sees still more opportunities protect Colorado's natural heritage.

"We need to protect more of the middle-elevation lands - the forest and sagebrush lands that connect the high peaks. They provide such good wildlife habitat and are good for more year-round recreation."

This year, Congress is looking at extending wilderness protection to three additional areas in the state, Jones says: wildlands near the San Juans in southwestern Colorado, the greater White River National Forest region in central Colorado (known as the "Hidden Gems") and Bureau of Land Management "Canyon Country" lands across the state.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO